The Date Jar

The Date Jar: Week 6 (Family Movie Date)

My favorite part about this Date Jar series is the emphasis it has put on spending more quality time with my family. For as young as a family as we are we have quite a full schedule. It would be extremely easy for us to go several weeks at a time without doing much more than watching television on the couch as a family, but this series has gotten us to plan fun, inexpensive ventures and provided us opportunities to experience some of the fun and excitement that the Columbus area has to offer. This week our destination: Lancaster, Ohio.

My husband has begun a ministry opportunity on Saturday mornings. He is currently renting out a gym in Circleville, Ohio and holding one-hour training sessions for aspiring basketball players of all ages. He is a trained and professional basketball trainer and ball-handler. I am so proud of all of his accomplishments in both the UK and USA. Over the next few weeks he has some BIG opportunities coming up, and if you stay tuned I will soon be releasing information about a television program he is filming in New York City in a couple of weeks.

(PS-if you are interested in getting involved or having my husband work with your kids please send me a comment or email and I will get you more information)

This Saturday morning he was training ten kids during his session and my daughter and I were getting dolled up at our favorite hair salon. I love my stylist. About a year ago I started going to a new stylist near our home. She is young and fashionable and a super inspiring mother. Whenever I am getting my hair done we swap stories about our kids and I love it. Not many people in my day-to-day life have toddlers and so I look forward to my monthly hair appointments not just because my hair needs regular maintenance, but because my stylist is AMAZING. This week she even did a cute curl-style because she knew we had a date night planned. I loved it and had to photograph it, because let’s be real I could never make it look this good!


After the hair appointment and basketball training session were complete we met at the home-base had a quick lunch before embarking on our family date for the week.

Over the past few weeks I have seen several commercials and trailers for the newest cartoon craze, Home. It looked adorable and with Rihanna and Jim Parsons as the voices of for the main characters I was intrigued. We showed the trailer to our daughter on the iPad to gauge her interest level and she could not stop laughing at the main character, Oh. We planned the movie to be the climax of our family date, but what date night is complete without a first a good meal?

I’m a high school teacher and it was also prom night so in an attempt to avoid the traffic, and students, associated with prom we decided to travel outside of our usual destination routine to a small town south east of Columbus, Lancaster. As always, I used my iPhone to locate some of the smalltown gems and favorites to explore in the area. We first ended up getting a wonderful cup of coffee at the SquareSeven shop in the Art and Clay On Main.


As you can tell from the photo I took above this place was a charming, unique spot. The coffee was delicious and I enjoyed browsing the arts and crafts available for purchase. They also have shelves of pre-made ceramics that you can paint, heat, and pick up at a later date once they are dry. If I had planned things a little better I would have secured us an opportunity to get crafty, but I guess this just means we will have to return another time. The coffee was superb and one thing I really liked about the place is that they hire through a partnership with the Fairfield County Developmental Disabilities. They also offer art therapy classes. It’s a new favorite.

Next, on our list of activities was a trip to the River Valley mall. Really, the mall trip was to buy some time and allow my daughter a chance to release her energy in the mall play area prior to the movie. In my last post I talked about running into a student and her mother at the mall. Check out  “We All Need a Little Encouraging” for details about this meaningful encounter.


After over half an hour of play and shopping it was off to dinner. We tried a local spot for dinner. Ale House 1890 on Main Street in Lancaster was awesome! Just like the Art and Clay on Main, the Ale House 1890 was charming and had the appeal of an old British Pub, which my husband appreciated. I ordered a chicken sandwich and green beans and shared it with my daughter. DELICIOUS!


After dinner, it was finally time for the movie to start. We purchased our ticket at the new Cinemark Theatre in Lancaster and entered into the beautiful world of cinema magic. As soon as we entered through the double doors my daughter spotted the popcorn machine. As much as I know I didn’t need a bag of popcorn I also knew that her movie experience would not be complete without the warm, crunchy, buttery goodness of fresh Orville Redenbacher popcorn. We purchased our popcorn and tickets and headed into the theatre where Home was being shown.


From the first preview to the final moments of the movie my daughter was in a trance. She was the best behaved I have ever seen her and she followed the plot line well for only being two and a half. Rarely, did she even speak throughout the movie except to ask questions for clarification. She laughed at appropriate times, and at the end when Oh was in danger she was visiblly nervous and shouted, “Oh, no!” Spolier Alert: At the end of the movie she had the whole theatre laughing when she yelled, “He saved the day!” Where does she learn these catch phrases?

In the end it was a perfect day as a family. I love watching my daughter experience things and enjoy them the way she did this movie. We each had something we particularly enjoyed during this day, and we left the theatre with all three of us exhausted. Taking time as family to intentionally have fun and make memories has been such a rewarding experience. We’re creating traditions and I love it.

Thanks for supporting my Date Jar series. See you in week 7 🙂

The Date Jar

The Date Jar: Week 4 (Daddy’s Birthday)

Is there a better way to spend a Monday than as a family celebrating a birthday? I think not. Today was my husband’s 27th birthday and we spent the day doing some of his favorite things. We slept in, had brunch at Waffle House, visited one of his favorite parks, purchased a book at his favorite bookstore, and had dinner at a great restaurant. We ventured to historic German Village. This is one of our favorite destinations in the Columbus area. The atmosphere of this village is nostalgic for my husband, because it reminds him of his childhood in England. The houses and roads are brick, people are walking everywhere no matter the weather, and there’s a coffee shop on every corner. He loves to slip into this small neighborhood in south Columbus when he needs a little reminder of home.

We spent the day eating and playing (a divine day according to my husband). There was no plan in place when we left the house this morning (which put me a little out of my element), but that’s exactly the way my husband likes it. As we left the house this morning we knew only that our stomachs were growling and the weather was predicted to be beautiful to which it lived up to its forecast.

My husband made the decision to visit a Waffle House in Grove City, a nearby suburb of Columbus. I can’t recall the last time I ate at the good ole Waffle House, but I know it was before the birth of our daughter. In our early days of marriage we lived near a Waffle House and occassionally visited it for cheap diner-style breakfast when we were in the mood for brunch. There is nothing healthy about the place, but birthdays are cheat days, right?

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By the time we finished brunch it was after noon. My husband was in the mood for basketball (which is actually a state of being, not a mood in his world) so we headed toward a park in German Village, Schiller Park. This trip allowed my husband a chance to “ball” with the locals while my daughter and I enjoyed some time at the playground across the way. Everyone got a chance to get some exercise in the beautiful outdoors. It really was perfect weather for a park trip.

About half a mile from this park is a unique and trendy book shop called The Book Loft. This complex maze of books is a 32-room building in the middle of German Village. Each room is divided by genre. This is one of our favorite bookstores ever. (It helps from my perspective that it sits atop a lovely coffee shop) Each of us got a chance to explore our favorite rooms and no trip to The Book Loft is complete without getting lost at least once. So yes, that happened.


Next, we walked another couple of blocks down the narrow brick street and ended up at a cute French bakery, Pistacio Vera. This bakery is famous for their macaroons, so of course we had to get a box. (Like I said earlier we basically ate and played all day)

On our way back from the bakery our daughter literally fell asleep walking. I didn’t know it was possible, but apparently there is such a thing as too much fun. She hit her limit and my husband and I took turns carrying the sleepy one during the half mile walk back to our car.


Any parent of a toddler can attest to the fact that once the child is asleep they must not be awakened. Instead of letting nap time get in the way of our spontaneous day in German Village we decided to enjoy this time by letting her sleep in the car while my husband and I each cracked open a book. It was so unbelieveably nice to sit in the car with the windows down and do nothing but read for an hour. Some of you may be laughing at our idea of fun, but it truly was one of the better parts of the day. We find it romantic to sit beside each other reading.


After an hour or so our daughter began to wake up in the backseat. We were on to the next phase of the birthday shenanigans: dinner. My husband chose to eat at Schmidts, a world famous sausage haus in German Village. They have an autobahn buffet where one can eat sausages and german potato salad until they explode. It was so delicious.

It was with full stomachs and no energy that we mutually decided to leave German Village and head home. My husband’s big birthday gift this year was a new television that he has been wanting for a while so we ended this perfect day on the couch watching Netflix on his new tv.

It was a great day with great people. Our daughter is a trooper. She genuinely loves to be a part of our Date Jar activities. As parents, we find “dating with our daughter” to be rewarding and so much fun, and wouldn’t have it any other way. I must say that my husband also did a pretty good job with this unplanned day of celebration. He’s such a great guy and deserves to have a fun and relaxing day.

Happy 27th, Babe 🙂

The Date Jar

The Date Jar: Week 3 (Family Getaway!)

Alas, the day has come where my husband comes home straight after work and the late weeknight basketball games are no more. His basketball coaching season came to a close a little over a week ago. Although I support him in all he does, a little part of me is excited that his season ended prematurely during a single-elimination tournament. As much as I love to watch him succeed in his basketball season I also love having him all to myself at home. I know I know…it’s selfish. I missed having him home in the evenings and I absolutely can’t stand the times (although they are very few) when we are unable to eat dinner together. It’s the way I was raised…dinner at the table every night.

It’s only fitting that this being our first non-basketball weekend since October that we should plan an extended family date. We didn’t want to spend gobs of money on a getaway weekend, so we decided to stay fairly local. We purchased a hotel on the north side of Columbus in a nice suburb filled with many attractions, and set out with no concrete plans and a bunch of free time.

We woke up Saturday morning and packed. Our home is in a predominantly rural community about twenty minutes south of Columbus. With the weather being as cold as it has been lately we decided to find an indoor activity near the Columbus metro area to visit and look for hotels in that area. We settled on a really nice suburb of Columbus, Worthington. This was a perfect location for this “staycation” as it ends up being about an hour drive from our home. It is far enough away to feel like a trip and it is an area we rarely visit so it held new adventures and the visitor appeal from our perspective.

Our first venture during our getaway was a Hobby Lobby. I could have spent the entire trip in this store. I love the decorating ideas, crafting supplies, and inspiration that fill every aisle. I left the shop with so many new ideas for home improvement projects to tackle. My husband may loathe that store more than any other on the planet simply for the fact that a trip to Hobby Lobby tends to result in a new home project.

Next, we embarked on a shopping mall. Polaris Fashion Place is a very upscale shopping center in that area. We spent a couple of hours looking around and spending minimal amounts. Our goal for the weekend was not to break out budget, but to also get some much-needed retail therapy at the same time. The theme I guess: Sensability. I feel so pathetic saying this, but I have not been truly on a shopping trip since the week before Thanksgiving. So there were things (especially for my daughter) that we needed to purchase.

Each of us purchased a few new items. We are building up a new Spring wardrobe for our daughter so she got to pick out an outfit and due to great deals we purchased an Easter dress for her as well. I purchased a new spring top, lipgloss, and a book about Blogging. My husband, the basketball freestyler, bought a new basketball to use during his travelling ministry shows and a Christian life book which is one of his favorite genres. Here is a look at our spoils:

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After a couple of hours at the mall it was off to dinner for the three of us. One of our favorite restaurants in the Columbus Metro area is Carabbas Italian Grill. We are a pasta-loving family. We don’t eat pasta too often, but on special occasions we splurge on a good Italian meal. My husband and I each ordered Wood Grilled Chicken (mine with a side of fettucine alfredo and his with a side of garlic mashed potatoes). The meal was topped off with a luscious Tiramisu shared amongst the three of us. Right before we paid our bill a woman seated behind us shared a 15% off coupon with us. She said that our daughter was so cute and so well-behaved. Score! We left stuffed and satisfied.

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After dinner we ventured to Magic Mountain. If you are not familiar with the concept it is an affordable and family friendly indoor playground for various age levels. This spot has a kids jungle gym area, arcade, go-karts, put-put, and laser tag. With our daughter only being two years old we decided to just try the jungle gym. The cost: $3…TOTAL! Due to the temperatures the place was extremely crowded. It made me a little nervous, but our daughter had a blast. She ran around with other kids her age and enjoyed the chance to climb, slide, and play with balls (from a ball pit). She played hard, and it was a late night. From my perspective it couldn’t have been better. All of us getting a chance to do something each of us would like individually and enjoying it together. Such a great weekend 🙂


We stayed at a hotel chain not too far from the shopping center/Magic Mountain. We enjoyed an evening of browsing through tv channels and reading. This is the perfect way to end any day in the Sisley home.

Sunday morning we were up a little later than normal, partially due to Springing Forward. Also, since we were not too far from home we were able to make it to a church service at our home church in Grove City. We went to a later service, but it was also a great way to end the weekend. (Especially since we hadn’t been to church in a few weeks due to various snow storms that always seemed to occur Saturday night into Sunday mornings)

The concept of family getaways to a fairly local location is one that every family should try once or twice a year. It gave us a chance to spend some quality time as a family doing things we love and mixing in some new adventures all while spending much less than we would to take a proper vacation. It was nice to have the time away from home where I didn’t feel obligated to wash dishes or do laundry. Family quality time always lacks a little bit toward the end of basketball season so it is always great to get some time just us to get back in sync and enjoy each other’s company.

I hope you are enjoying our Date Jar series. I know I’m enjoying the family quality time and I hope I’m inspiring you with affordable ways to date your family.  IMG_0355